How To Watch A Movie For All It’s Worth

My friend Doug Stuart (with Gordon Fee) wrote a wonderful book titled, “How to read the Bible for all it’s worth. I think Christians need to develop a similar intentionality when watching a movie. It all starts with asking the right questions. “What are the most important questions you should be able to answer about a specific movie?

Every Christian needs to use discernment in deciding whether or not a film is appropriate for their personal viewing and in the case of parents, whether or not it is appropriate for their kids. That should be our first question: should I attend this film or not and why?

I’ve observed that once a Christian decides to attend a film their next question is almost always the same question and the wrong one. The most common question I’m asked is: did you like that movie?

As a Christian Culturewatcher it is not nearly as important for me to form an opinion about whether I like the film or to simply be able to describe the storyline and make insightful observations about the performances. Frankly most Christian film reviews are “two thumbs up or down” this is what I like and this is what I didn’t like analysis of films. These insights are interesting, but fall short of the most important information I need about a movie.

The question we ought to ask is: how did the film compare to my beliefs and worldview as a Christian? To answer that question requires doing what John Stott called ¢â‚¬Ëœdual listening.” Dual listening means that I constantly listen to the message of culture and compare and contrast it to message of the Word of God.

You should not rely on other people to do this work for you you should learn to do it yourself and you can by acquiring the skills of a Christian Culturewatcher. A Christian Culturewatcher is a dual listener who makes observations about how a film compares to their beliefs and Christian worldview.

If you want to get started as a Culturewatcher I recommend you begin by answering the following questions about every movie you attend:

1) What is the basic storyline of the movie?
2) What are the beliefs presented in this movie?
3) How do these beliefs compare to biblical teaching?
4) What are some provocative quotes that capture some of the essential beliefs of this movie?

Culturewatchers make these observations, not primarily because we enjoy the movies (although many of us do), but because we love people and want to engage in conversations about the truth. This means that in addition to making observations I need to determine effective conversation starters to use with my seeking friends. So the next step in the process is:

5) Identify some questions for discussion that will help seekers clarify their own beliefs and allow me to share mine in response. (The provocatove quotes are often useful in framing these questions).

If you want further help with this process:

1) Register for Culturewatch at
2) Watch a movie and take some notes answering all the above questions.
3) Compare your answers to the commentary of that movie at Culturewatch site.

At Culturewatch we are not trying to ¢â‚¬Ëœprovide the right answers.’ We want to equip Christians to do dual listening as a way of life, so that every time you watch TV or a movie, or read a book, or listen to music, you are thinking through how your worldview compares with the cultural message you are receiving.

We’re always interested in your feedback Let us know what you think by contacting us at:

Posted in Staublog, Thoughts in November 8, 2002 by | No Comments »

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